Should I use social media to advertise my practice? What are the risks?
Any time you post advertising content to your social media thread, it is a risky proposition, and the normal rules, 7.1 apply. Additionally, some municipalities require that you include disclaimers to make it clear to consumers that you are, in fact, advertising.
Case result success stories can easily be perceived as “testimonials” by your local authority or may be misconstrued by consumers as a guaranteed case result. This naturally raises the question as to whether required disclaimers should appear in your social media feed.
Beyond abiding by the normal rules, some states also require that you use the words “Advertisement” or “Newsletter,” whenever your state might perceive a particular social media post as a “communication” advertising your legal services.
There have been cases where lawyers have been disciplined, and even disbarred, for certain activities in social media:
One example was a lawyer in Louisiana, who, through social media, tried to get a local community to petition a couple of judges to influence their decision in a case. That lawyer was disbarred.
In another instance, an attorney received a five-year suspension for having his plaintiff clean up his social media profile in a wrongful death case of his spouse. In that case, the plaintiff had pictures of himself in his Facebook blog timeline, which undercut their argument that he was grieving.
Another time, a daughter of a successful plaintiff posted something on her social media a statement about how the defendant was paying for her trip to Europe. It was found that her post violated the confidentiality clause of the settlement agreement and her parents had to give the money back.
As a last example, a lawyer in Des Moines, Iowa, was found to have tainted the jury pool through hearsay that she put up on her social media and they had to delay the trial.
Needless to say, extreme caution should be used when posting anything relating to your practice, on social media.